The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance has launched a new website – myBenefits.ny.gov – that allows any New Yorker to go online and find out if he or she may qualify for work support benefits and other programs designed to help low-income working families and individuals make ends meet.
Through myBenefits.ny.gov, New Yorkers can do a simple, 10-minute prescreening from any computer with Internet access at any time, to determine whether they are likely to qualify for Food Stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, child dependent care credits, and school lunch programs.
“Millions of New Yorkers are doing their part, going to work every day, juggling one or two jobs, and yet they are seeing economic security slip further and further from their grasp,” said OTDA Commissioner David A. Hansell. “myBenefits underscores our commitment to providing low-income working families with increased access to benefits and services so that no New Yorker falls through the cracks.”
"Commissioner Hansell and OTDA have developed an innovative online resource in myBenefits that will help thousands of families receive the assistance they need during hard times," said Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, New York State Chief Information Officer and Director of the office for Technology. "Accelerating the use of state e-government services like myBenefits is one of the primary goals of the New York State universal broadband access initiative designed to close the digital divide gaps throughout our state. Greater access to online government resources like myBenefits enables individuals and communities to participate more fully in society and the digital economy.
Hansell said it is expected that additional programs will be added to myBenefits over time and eventually allow for online applications.
“The vision of myBenefits is to provide a single site for New York State’s families and community partners to connect with benefits, services and work supports – an e-government hub for human services,” Commissioner Hansell said. “Ultimately, myBenefits will allow individuals and families to learn about and apply for an array of work supports, customized to fit their unique circumstances, by answering one set of simple questions online.”
This is effort is in keeping with the work of Governor Paterson’s Economic Security Cabinet, comprised of more than 20 state agencies, which has been focusing on the very real needs of working families in this difficult economic climate, with the goal of growing and strengthening the middle class.
Simultaneously, a pilot program has been launched that will allow for Food Stamps applications to be filed online at locations other than a local Department of Social Services. Jefferson County has already begun accepting Food Stamp applications online, with Dutchess, Ulster, Erie, Chautauqua, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Suffolk, Tompkins and Westchester counties to follow later this summer and fall.
At the conclusion of the pilot period, the facilitated online application will be expanded to all upstate counties. New York City is developing its own application system so online enrollment will be available statewide.
Food Stamps and other vital benefits are too often not accessed by those eligible. The myBenefits site is just one step being taken to maximize the access to work supports by low-income working individuals and families. The site will offer expanded hours for people to apply and allow them to do so without having to take time off from work to visit a local department of social services.
By mid-2009, myBenefits will be further expanded to allow people to apply for Food Stamp benefits on their own from any computer with an Internet connection, and in seven other languages besides English. Electronic applications for other programs and services will be added over time to myBenefits.